Little Orchids Centre is a charitable organisation in Derry / Londonderry which provides therapeutic intervention and support for children from 2 – 4 years old with special needs and their parents and carers. The Foundation awarded Little Orchids with £2671.79 from its ABLE funds for the purchase of sensory room equipment. One of the children to benefit from the sensory room is Noah. His Mum Kellie told us what a difference the centre has made to them:
Noah’s Story (by Noah’s mum)
Noah was referred by his Health Visitor regarding concerns about his communication, social skills and behaviour. Noah had a lot of sensory issues, holding his ears frequently and the back of his head and throwing objects spontaneously. Noah was given was given a place at Little Orchids in March 2015. Kellie, Noah’s Mum, told us about the difference being at Little Orchids has made. Before Noah started Little Orchids Jeff and I noticed that Noah’s progress was noticeably slower than it was for children of a similar age, we became increasingly worried about Noah’s difficulty in meeting those developmental milestones.
He was a very energetic, noisy and overactive little boy. We found his behaviour difficult to cope with, as he regularly took tantrums, banging his head of the floor or walls and hitting his head. These tantrums would happen anywhere such as at home, in the car especially if we decided on a route that was different from where Noah expected to go, shopping / restaurants specifically certain sounds, lights and other sights. He seemed to find it hard to communicate his needs and would become really frustrated and anxious. This particular behaviour occurred 5 – 10 times a day and would last up to an hour sometimes. For us as parents to watch, these were very upsetting scenes and embarrassing if they happened in public. As parents we felt completely hopeless.
Noah started Little Orchids in March 2015, where he immediately received one to one specialised assistance. Since then we as a family have noticed significant differences to Noah’s social and communication skills and behaviour. Noah never really understood general social rules before he started Little Orchids however as a result of his short time there he generally ‘waits his turn’, ‘shares’, ‘listens’, ‘tidies up’’, sits on his seat’. Little Orchids developed a structured routine that Noah seemed to understand and follow.
During Noah’s assessment the Staff told us that consistency was very important and whatever strategies they would use to help Noah should be used by everyone involved with Noah, including other family members. We followed this at home and it worked. Obviously these changes didn’t happen overnight but we were patient and it wasn’t long before we noticed small, positive changes. We kept a daily behaviour diary to help try identifying what triggers a particular behaviour. We found this really useful as Little Orchids would respond to our daily entries suggesting ways to deal or control his behaviour.
Little Orchids used Picture Exchange Communication (PECS) with Noah, this we found to be really effective as Noah found spoken communication difficult to understand. So as a general rule we use short clear sentences along with visual aids. If we plan to go anywhere with Noah we will use a visual timetable using photos / pictures to show him what he will see and why we are going. Noah seems to find it easier to process visual information. He now takes more notice of us showing him photo / pictures cards and telling him to ‘sit in his seat’ or ‘feet on floor’, than just verbal instructions on their own. We have downloaded Emotion apps on the Ipad and he sometimes uses this to tell us he’s sad or happy. He has even made comments about other people’s facial expressions such as ‘surprised’ when actually that’s just how they look in general.
Little Orchids recommended their Parents Support Group (Friends of Little Orchids), so we had opportunities to talk to and get advice from other parents. It was a great way to let off steam and also it was good to know that we were not the only ones in this situation even though sometimes it felt that way. Little Orchids taught Noah routine and us strategies to help him meet his potential. We now use these in everyday family situations. Overtime these have improved his behaviour and ultimately brought more fun and happiness into our much less stressed family.